BUILDING A POWERFUL AND MODERN AFRICA

Guest Post : Written by Jacinta Oghogho Odubanjo – Broadcast Journalist with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria 

International cooperation is critical to world peace and development. It offers opportunities for dialogues on issues of global concern like migration, trade, conflicts, technology and laws governing the international system. It is this crucial aspect of relations that defines the objectives of the Crans Montana Forum.

The Forum since 1986 has been in the vanguard of a “more humane world”. It organizes annual events involving decision-makers the world over to discuss political, economic and social occurrences requiring attention. Being a Non-Governmental International Organization, the Crans Montana Forum promotes good practices that shape the future of the world.

Recently, Dakhla in the disputed territory of South Sahara, controlled by Morocco, hosted the Crans Montana Forum on Africa and South-South Cooperation. The conference of 14-17 March 2019 was a unique opportunity for businesses, organizations, and governments to network and strengthen their relations. The forum brought together over 1000 Africans to debate issues that are of concern to the continent with the theme “Building a Powerful and Modern Africa Dedicated to its Youth”.

This edition of the Forum kicked off with the opening message of the King Mohammed VI of Morocco, read by the president of the Dakhla-Qued Eddahab Region, Mr. Yanja El Khattat. The king wants youths to be encouraged, trained and empowered to turn today’s economic potential to tomorrow’s reality. His message set the tone for discussions on security, health, the digital revolution, leadership, entrepreneurship, and economic cooperation with emphasis on the role of youths and women.

DAKHLA-AFRICA celebrated African Youth and ensured their participation in the various debates as they were officially welcomed in the 2019 class of the New Leaders for Tomorrow.

The New Leaders for Tomorrow are innovative and influential. In a panel discussion on Youth Entrepreneurship and Women’s Leadership in Africa, a 35-year-old youth activist, entrepreneur, and musician, Vanessa Mdee said education should be given to both boys and girls to enable them to reach their full potentials. Speaking at the forum, President, National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Bello Bala Shagari said African youths should abhor violence and embrace technology for smart solutions to their challenges.

Shagari’s call stems from the fact that technology has transformed the workings of world systems. People are more informed with the use of technology today compared to the past. With a smartphone one easily accesses information, communicates and educates. This assertion was buttressed in the presentation of the Director General of the Royal Institute of Strategic Studies, Toufik Mouline who stressed the need for digitization to tackle challenges facing Africa. He said digitization would open doors of opportunities for education, finance, energy, mobility, health, and agriculture.

By entrepreneurship, for example, young leaders show their professional competence and leadership experience. Bringing them from emerging African states to chat a sustainable future for the continent is such that puts the future in the hands of leaders capable of taking Africa to the summit of development. It is this hope that made my experience at the summit exciting. Having to be in the midst of people of different backgrounds, displaying the rich cultures of Africa, gave one a sense of belonging and confidence. It was also a reminder of the role of women in development.

The first lady of the Republic of Guinea, Mrs. Hadja Conde Djene Kaba, a special guest of the African Women’s Forum session dedicated to youth entrepreneurship and women leadership, said everything goes smoothly with women when they are trusted. She gave an example of African women adhering to the terms of loan repayments as a measure of trust and reliability. Some African women are beneficiaries of support loans from financial institutions which they pay back as and when due. By this, Hadja Conde calls for policies that ensure that the needs of women in African societies are catered for.

The First Lady of Gambia Mrs. Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow spoke in the same line when she called for the provision of enabling environment that caters to the empowerment of youths and women.

In her speech, the Vice President of Liberia Mrs. Jewel Howard Taylor covers the relevance of South-South cooperation. Through the South-South Cooperation developing countries exchange resources, technology and knowledge to find solutions to common development challenges. With this aim in mind, the kingdom of Morocco brought together African countries to discuss issues affecting them and also providing solutions to move African nations out of poverty. Mrs. Taylor is however hopeful that innovation, inclusion and economic empowerment will provide space for women and youths to strive in business and politics.

In his remark, the founder of Crans Montana Jean-Paul Carteron, a believer in the abilities of women explained that the Pan Africa women network is an agenda of hope and positivity saying the Africa woman is the true key to the evolution of African societies and integration of the world.

An important side function of DAKHLA-AFRICA is the “Declaration of Dakhla”, initiated by Anass Doukkali, Minister of Health of Morocco, with the support of African Ministers attending the Forum. The declaration is dedicated to Universal Health Coverage and Health Security in Africa. It proposes a reform of the African health system include effective access to quality health services for at least 75% of the population and a reduction in maternal and infant mortality. It also recommends the establishment of an integrated and reactive African epidemiological vigilance system.

Health is wealth, the reason youth and women development is essential to the revival of the African continent. As the programmes of the forum continue to elicit global coverage, one is encouraged to live the dream of a new Africa propelled by transformative leadership. This new Africa is a function of the power of the youths of today to rise up to expectation.

To keep hope alive and encourage women and youths, the Crans Montana Forum came to an end by honoring youths and women with awards, celebrating them for their contributions to their societies.

As the organizers prepare for the next session of the Crans Montana forum holding in Geneva from 26 to 29 June 2019, with focus on restoring security and trust among nations, what is evident is the role of the March forum in addressing the main challenges facing the works of youth organizations, suggesting the most efficient models and tools to boost the participation of youth in the fight against violent extremism as well as working out processes of strengthening the role of youth organizations in conflict management. This involves exploring ways to involve young people fully and effectively in decision-making.

From my participation, I have no doubt that the gathering succeeded in strengthening the solidarity of African states as well as boosting the economic, social and environmental development of the continent. The forum emboldened Africa’s relationships with other countries notably in the framework of the South-South Cooperation.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Broadcast Journalist, Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

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